Tag Archives: polls

Leventhal Poll Shows Wide Open Executive Race

By Adam Pagnucco.

Council Member George Leventhal, who is running for County Executive, has released an internal poll from Celinda Lake’s firm showing a wide open race.  The poll surveyed 400 likely voters with a margin of error of 4.9 points.  We reprint the three-page polling memo below and have a few comments following.

 

So what can be gleaned from this?

First, voters aren’t paying attention yet.  No candidate draws more than 11% support in the first run of questions and undecided gets 58%.

Second, the margin of error (4.9 points) matters.  In the first run, that means there is no statistically significant difference between the six candidates.  For example, Bill Frick polls at 2% but, with the margin of error, could be at 6.9%.  Marc Elrich polls at 11% but, with the margin of error, could be at 6.1%.  In effect, no one is leading.

Third, even with the “engaged communications” part of the poll, Leventhal is still within the margin of error against Elrich.  As for the “final ballot” that shows Leventhal blowing out the rest of the field, it appears to depend on giving respondents additional information on Leventhal and not on the other candidates.  It “simulates Leventhal having a resources and communications advantage” that does not exist.  At the moment, he will be fifth in cash on hand once the latest public matching funds are disbursed.

Could Leventhal win?  Sure, it’s possible.  He is a four-term incumbent, a former chair of the county Democratic Party, has a geographically diverse base of small contributions and is working as hard as any candidate in the county.

But the simulations showing Leventhal leading the field right now reek of spin.  Voters aren’t fully engaged yet and no one other than David Blair has started mailing regularly and going on television.  We believe the poll’s real message, which is that no one has wrapped up this election quite yet.

Disclosure: the author is a publicly-listed supporter of Roger Berliner.

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Candidates Ask Supporters to Stuff Online Poll

By Adam Pagnucco.

Back in the days of Maryland Politics Watch, we would occasionally set up online polls for various races.  The polls had no validity, of course.  They could not screen for registered voters, much less those in a particular party or county, and even those that limited each IP address to one vote could be easily gamed through multiple devices and masking software.

But we did it anyway for two reasons.  First, we were greatly entertained by the thought of frenzied candidates snapping the whip over armies of interns and yelling, “Vote faster!  You’re not pushing the vote button fast enough!!”  And second, they got lots of eyeballs, or at least apparent eyeballs.  Your author once scrutinized the traffic coming into one of our better performing online polls and discovered that most of it was coming from a handful of IP addresses.

Eventually, we stopped.  The “polls” added no value to the readers’ understanding of the elections.  And they also turned into a huge waste of time for candidates.  After we posted yet another online poll in 2010, one candidate emailed and said, “I really hate these things.  I have to drop everything and start voting!”  We took that comment to heart.  From that point on, your author determined that it was only worth doing a poll if we could invest it with some kind of methodological validity.  That’s easier said than done with an online poll!

That has not stopped others.  On Wednesday, Bethesda Magazine did an online poll on the Council At-Large race, which it admitted was “not scientific,” with SurveyMaker.  The poll began making the rounds on Facebook and one political insider sent it to your author, breathlessly panting, “Unscientific, but very surprising!”  Then a complete unknown, Steve Solomon, took the lead spot and folks started to understand just how unscientific this poll was.

Solomon’s “win” was not an accident.  He is a sports radio host and he encouraged his listeners to vote for him on both radio and Twitter.

Solomon was not alone.  Neil Greenberger sent out a blast email asking his supporters to stuff the poll.  He told his list that while the poll was unscientific, “It is better to be vaulting in this poll than to be lingering.”  He even said, “You don’t have to be a registered voter or live in Montgomery County vote in this poll. Just let them know who you would like to see come out ahead in the June 26 Democratic primary.”

Now look.  We do not absolutely deplore all online polls.  They can be fun and buzzy, and if folks want to push buttons for kicks, that’s fine.  But it’s absolute cross-eyed tomfoolery to see them as containing any merit.  Candidates, listen up.  If you spend your time pumping worthless ca-ca like this instead of phone banking, door-knocking and raising money, your chances of winning will be about as high as the coyote’s chances of catching the road runner.  Now get back to work!

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Washington Post Poll Shows Hogan Vulnerability

By Adam Pagnucco.

Governor Larry Hogan loves to discuss his high approval ratings in polls, which have usually been in the range of 60-70%.  But a new Washington Post poll that examines his reelection prospects shows that they are well below his approval numbers and provides hope to Maryland Democrats.

The Post poll of March 16-19 has sample sizes of 914 adults and 841 registered voters.  The margin of error for those two groups is 4 points, growing to 5.5 points for a half-sample and 6.5 points for the 317 respondents who live in Maryland’s D.C. suburbs.  These margins of error must be kept in mind when reading the poll –  effectively, only large gaps are meaningful for small sub-groups.

With that significant caveat in mind, let’s examine data on Hogan’s reelection prospects.  The Post asked respondents the following question: “Thinking about Maryland’s Governor’s race in 2018… if Larry Hogan ran for re-election as governor, do you think you would vote for him OR for the candidate nominated by the Democratic Party?”  Among adults, 39% said they would vote for Hogan and 36% said they would vote for the Democratic nominee, an advantage of 3 points for the Governor.  Among registered voters, 41% said they would vote for Hogan and 37% said they would vote for the Democrat, a margin of plus 4.  So far, this looks very much like Hogan’s 4-point victory in 2014.

But the sub-group results are more interesting.  We compiled the Post’s sub-group data on this question in the presentation below.

Let’s recall the margin of error estimates above.  Margins of 10-15 points or less for small sub-groups are probably not very meaningful.  That said, many of the Governor’s strengths are predictable.  He does well with Republicans, Conservatives, Whites and rural residents.  He is weak among Democrats, liberals, African Americans and Prince George’s residents.  One item that stands out is his strength with seniors, with whom he has a 17-point advantage.  Seniors are among the most reliable voters in any election.

Now let’s compare the geographic results of this poll with how the Governor actually performed in 2014.

The Governor appears stronger in the poll in Baltimore and the Washington suburbs, but weaker elsewhere than in 2014.  This could be statistical noise due to large margins of error.  But it could also be the result of tax fatigue in some Democratic strongholds, like Montgomery (where voters recently passed term limits by 40 points) and Prince George’s (where the County Executive proposed a 15% increase in property taxes two years ago).  It’s hard to believe that the Governor is actually weaker in Anne Arundel and Howard, both of which have Republican Executives who are strongly favored for reelection.  (And a random question: what pollster combines Baltimore City and County in one estimate?  C’Mon, Man!)

The big takeaway from the poll is this: Larry Hogan will not be coasting to reelection.  Maryland is simply not wired that way.  It has too many Democrats, African Americans, liberals, immigrants and people who are either employed by or do business with government at some level to give any GOP statewide incumbent a blowout win.  From a purely political perspective, the Governor deserves credit for his focused message of tax cuts, job growth and reform (like redistricting) while trying his best to avoid distractions from the right, the left and Washington D.C.  His approach gives him a path to victory in a rather blue state.  But if the Democrats begin preparing now, play smart and field a good candidate for Governor, Larry Hogan can be defeated.

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Israel Election 2015: Likud is Now a Lock

Jeremy’s Knesset Insider informs that not just Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu but the two major religious parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, have ruled out joining a coalition led by Zionist Union and excluding Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. This news takes a Zionist Union-led coalition from a highly unlikely outcome to impossible.

Additionally, the polls indicate that Likud is up 1 seat and Zionist Union down 1 or 2 seats in the polls, though the shift between the various major camps of Israeli politics is smaller. Unlike last week, Likud is the largest party, increasing its claim on government.

The question now is whether Netanyahu will choose a right-wing religious-nationalist coalition or a more centrist coalition with Zionist Union. The current seat math renders either possible. While the right-wing coalition is likely a more natural fit for today’s Likud, there are also real advantages for Netanyahu in the centrist coalition, as I outlined previously.

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Thoughts on the Gansler-Ivey Poll

The Gansler-Ivey poll results are catnip for people like me who follow campaigns but also a good example of why outlets that try to estimate the current shape of election campaigns (e.g. 538, pollster.com) do not include them in their analyses.

The press release includes some interesting numbers. I was less interested in the top lines than in the report of Doug Gansler’s favorability ratings. If opinions of the AG have indeed improved since the spate of very bad press earlier this year, that would certainly be good news for the Gansler-Ivey campaign.

However, the press release was more telling for what it did not include than what it did. There is no information about the questions that were asked. One poster on Seventh State’s Facebook page claims that the questions were primed to elicit negative responses about Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

(Update: The Gansler campaign informs me this was not the case and that the questions about candidate ratings and horse race numbers were asked prior to the questions regarding the exchanges in any case.)

While the poll reported Gansler’s favorability ratings, it did not do the same for either Brown or Mizeur. Additionally, there are no demographic breakdowns. I’d be especially interested to know the gender, racial, and religious composition of the survey, as well as the results for these demographic groups.

This information would make it possible to answer several questions. For example, does the share of women estimated in the electorate correspond to past gubernatorial elections? Women routinely makeup a disproportionate share of Democratic primary voters in Maryland but do they in the polling sample? How strong does the poll state support is for candidates among groups whose support they might hope to consolidate?

So, while fun to read, I’ll be looking forward to the next poll reported by an outlet not associated with one of the campaigns.

Note: I’m supporting Gansler but I try to call it like I see it as is evident here.

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Marylanders Like Obamacare

The Washington Post reports that Marylanders approve of Obamacare by a 55-40 margin. The poll also says few attach blame to LG Brown but instead to state and federal administrators. One suspects that the share of Democratic primary voters who blame Brown is even lower.

I suspect that this aspect of the poll is more vulnerable to the answer choices provided. It is also unclear or whether voters deem the issue important or have fixed opinions. Campaigns also have the capacity to raise the salience of issues and to frame them in ways that opinions shift (i.e. who oversees those administrators blamed by the voters). However, the poll suggests that has yet to occur despite efforts by both AG Gansler and Del. Mizeur.

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